Amy Domini

Founder and Chair, Domini Impact Investments

Amy Domini, who’s widely recognized as a pioneer of socially responsible investing, became interested in the field by accident.

“I started in the business as a stockbroker in the 1970s, and since the last thing I wanted to do was make a new client angry, I would ask for the names of companies they didn’t like so I wouldn’t ever mention them again,” she said. “Someone told me about losing a brother in Vietnam and hating the company that made Agent Orange; I heard many stories like that.”

Struck by the powerful feelings, Domini sought out information about investing according to one’s ethical beliefs. While she learned that some churches wouldn’t invest in certain companies for ethical reasons, she couldn’t find anything written about the subject. So in 1984, with ex-husband Peter Kinder, she wrote “Ethical Investing.”

“Since mine was the only book on the subject, I became an ‘expert.’ Boards and endowments asked me to speak to them and I found myself in more sophisticated audiences,” she said.

In 1989, at the company she founded with Kinder, KLD Research & Analytics, she launched the Domini Social Index, now called the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, which helped spur investing that meets social, environment and governance guidelines. In 1997, Domini started her own firm, which currently offers four equity funds and one fixed-income fund that apply ESG standards to their investments.

“People are now demanding and getting disclosure, and that’s changing corporate behavior and government regulation,” she said.

— Evan Cooper